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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005 Dec;29(12):2170-80.

Drinking behavior from high school to young adulthood: differences by college education.

Author information

1
Transportation Research Institute, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2150, USA. rbingham@umich.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent serious alcohol-related events have raised public awareness of the prevalence of at-risk alcohol use among college undergraduates, but heavy alcohol consumption during late adolescence and young adulthood is not limited to college students. Alcohol consumption typically peaks in young adulthood regardless of education level, and risks related to alcohol misuse are shared by young adults, regardless of their educational choices. Differences in alcohol risk between college-attending and non-college-attending young adults are generally small, and emphasize the need for research examining the drinking patterns of both of these groups.

METHODS:

To better understand patterns of at-risk alcohol use and its association with education, this study compared at-risk alcohol use from 12 grade to young adulthood (age 24) in a sample of never-married young adults. Three groups were formed based on completed education when the survey was administered in young adulthood: high school or less, postsecondary education without a four-year college degree, and completed college.

RESULTS:

Men who completed college experienced the greatest increase in at-risk drinking from grade 12 to young adulthood; however, their at-risk alcohol use did not differ markedly from men in the other education groups in young adulthood. Men who did not complete college had high levels of alcohol risk in 12 grade and maintained or increased those levels in young adulthood, demonstrating a pattern of prolonged risk. Women whose completed education was high school or less experienced the fewest increases in at-risk alcohol use. Education group differences were not explained by place of residence or employment status.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results emphasize the need to intervene early to prevent at-risk alcohol use, and emphasize that at-risk alcohol use is neither unique, nor necessarily the highest among individuals who complete college.

PMID:
16385187
PMCID:
PMC1397708
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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